Saibal C. Pal
God made the country and man made the towns and cities. Countries are proud of their towns and cities. Each person has his own choice. Some might like Tokyo while another might prefer Kolkata or London. Choices vary. But country sides are dear to all. Its charm is universal. In the words of British naturalist, David Attenborough, “ ………. the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of usual beauty; the greatest of source of intellectual interest.” The words sum up all the virtues of nature.
Nature exists since the creation of the earth and we enjoy every bit of it till our soul leaves the world. But human beings have been cruel to nature and have destroyed it. Little is left for humans to enjoy. Nature has silently borne the onslaught on it. Little was realized that man would be paid back in their own coin to lament. The world is facing natural disasters in the form of earthquakes, floods, tsunamis and typhoons. Nature balances existence on earth but human beings have extracted the maximum and continue to destroy little is the realization that it is the cause of imbalance. Situation has gone out of control and despite measures it has become difficult to tame destruction of nature. Steps to counter the imbalance has been taken up at the grass route level through various government and private initiatives including training programmes to meet the challenge created through such disasters.
28th July is observed as the World Nature Conservation Day (`WCD’) each year. Like the other years this year also the day was observed world wide. India did not fall behind. A festoon displayed, on WCD carried the photo and words of Ms Mamta Banerjee, Chief Minister of Paschim Bangla, “ I support Green Magic.” This clearly shows the need to be conscious of nature preservation. WCD underlines the significance of a healthy environment to enable a productive society that will ensure e well being of the present and future generations. Conservation of nature is crucial as life of every form depends on natural resources such as water, air, soil, minerals, trees, animals, fire and gas. Challenge of the present time is how to protect and preserve nature for human survival and healthy community life.
Nature is the gift of God. The world was gifted to mankind along with nature. Human beings were sent to live in this earth by utilizing nature including water, air, soil, minerals, trees, animals, fire and gas. Apples and oranges from trees, water from coconuts are all gifts of nature. With modernization and being wedded to economic pursuits human beings exploited nature. People are more concerned with the sensex rather than nature. We think of nature only when we are tired of the sensex. Nature is a greater healer of the anxieties of the human minds drowned in anxiety. Poems, literature, songs have been composed from the inspiration drawn form nature. Yet we do not spare nature to satisfy our need. WCD observed on 28th July each year closely follows the World Environment Day (`WED’) observed on 5th June. WED started being observed from 1972 when UN declared 5th June, 1972 as the World Environment Day. The day is now observed in countries all over the world. It comes before the WCD by a month. Through WED, United Nations undertakes programmes on environment protection. Such programmes help to tackle issues on environmental protection and arouses the need to be responsible and be agents of change in support of sustainable and equitable development.
Many ask whether WED and WCD are to be observed separately when the object for observance of both the days are one – save mother earth. There is similarity of objective of WED and WCD but there exists a subtle difference. Nature which includes air, water, trees, topography whereas environment includes nature plus mankind. WED is observed to remind mankind of responsibility towards nature. Environment includes nature as well as mankind and unless mankind acts in a responsible manner nature is bound to be destroyed leading to doom. Air and water are the source of life’s existence on this earth. Means of existence in the earth is also the contribution of nature. But human beings have extracted from nature for both survival and enjoyment of luxury. This has led to the problem of imbalance in nature. The earth does not get monsoon it used to get before. Temperature during seasons are not the same. While the mercury rises past its standard levels of temperature during summer, winters are warmer. Snow in winter is now a luxury. This condition is attributed to the pressure of human exploitation which has caused ecological imbalance world- wide. Natural resources namely, air, water, forest, wild life, fossil fuels and mineral face human exploitation which has given rise to the observance of WCD and WED with much fanfare every where. All are presently concerned with the condition of nature and environment world wide. The problem is not restricted to any single country or a group of countries but it has affected the world as a whole.
The world is to-day considered as one entity with the advent and growth of Information technology industry. While software is affected by virus and hacking , hardware waste referred to as e-waste faces disposal problem and is considered a major issue for the world. E-waste cannot be treated like normal waste. Dumping e-waste is considered an offence and has adverse impact on environment and health. E-waste when burnt leads to toxins and enters the soil and water and causes pollution of the natural climate.
Companies have come up to deal in e-waste. One of such companies is CEREBRA, a BSE listed company offers integrated end-to-end e-waste management solution in collaboration with Cimelia Resource Recovery Pte Ltd., Singapore. The company offers one of the largest waste re-cycling facilities in India offering customized solutions with high environment standards. Maximized profit is targeted through the company’s extended 4 Rs i.e. Repair, Recondition, Refurbishment and Remarketing services to specified clients. The company claims to provide unique approach to e-waste management to achieve zero-landfill. The company takes up the responsibility of collection, segregation and disposal of e-watse from their collection points. The company offers technical and management consultancy and contributes in a big way to support the Green environment initiative world -wide
The need of the hour is awareness of the harm caused by e-waste to environment. Proper management and its importance needs to be generated so that it is re-cycled in a responsible and sustainable manner.
Air for us to live and raw material for all goods produced in the world are contributions of nature. Extraction from nature has reached a stage which is up-setting ecological balance. Climatic conditions remain affected. We do not get proper monsoons as before and temperature during summer and winter is not the same as the previous years.
To-day there are issues of air pollution, water pollution, deforestation of forests, killing of wild life, illegal extraction of fossil fuel and mining of minerals. Excessive and unsustainable use of the resources is threatening nature. This has caused the raising of alarm and has called for `nature conservation’. Laws have been enacted to check people’s action. A fortnight ago Supreme Court passed an order restricting tourists from visiting core areas of tiger reserves in India. The judgment goes a long way to prove the urgent need to protect nature. To-day there are various treaties entered by countries to protect nature and environment and these treaties need to be interpreted for proper understanding of the need to protect nature and environment. The treaties referred include the `Convention of Biological Diversity’ and Kyoto Protocol. Several Projects initiated by the Government of India include Project Tiger, Project Elephant, Project Rihno and Project Birds aimed at protecting wild life. Wild life hunting is banned in the country.
India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change also takes into account natural resources, their conservation and efficient use. The Government policies, laws enacted need public involvement for success. The word, `sustainable’ needs proper understanding by all. All should aim at development without depletion of natural resources.
One must learn to appreciate nature and realize its importance for the existence of mankind. We must keep vigilant of the surrounding without destroying it. There must be timely help in conservation activities as well as active awareness activities. Use of paper and fuel must be restricted to check depletion of forest reserves and oil reserves. Avoidance of the use of plastic bags is a must as plastic is considered air pollutant. To-day even sectors like tourism are affected. There is a call for adoption of eco-tourism practices by tourists. A small check on habits of tourists like avoiding littering here and there during travel is an eco-tourism practice.
CORPORATE INDIA AND GREEN INITIATIVE
Effective waste management practices are considered the most significant towards nature and environment protection.Corporate India is aware of the need for preservation of nature and check on its exploitation. Various workshops, seminars are held where papers are presented highlighting the need to protect nature. Corporate India has woken up to the much needed protection and companies are supporting the cause through the various corporate social responsibility programmes. There are instances of projects facing closure due to threat to nature. Many projects have been shelved due to objection from the Pollution Control Boards set up at the Central and State levels. Environment protection is monitored by a separate ministry. The latest corporate slogan is `go green’ and steps in the direction are referred to as the `Green Initiative’. Ministry of Corporate Affairs(` MCA’) vide its circular nos. 17/2011 and 18/2011 dated 21/4/2011 and 29/4/2011 respectively recommended steps towards paperless compliance of the various provisions of the Companies Act,1956 and the securities laws. The circulars empower companies to adopt steps for filing returns in electronic mode to comply with its provisions of the Companies Act, 1956 and the securities laws. The circulars issued by MCA are based on the provisions included in Ss 2, 4, 5, 13 and 81 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. `Electronics form’ with reference to information has been defined in S 2(r) meaning information generated, sent, received or stored in media, magnetic, optical, computer memory, micro film, computer generated fiche or similar device. S 4 provides legal recognition of electronic records. If any information or matter is rendered or made available in electronic form and is made accessible so as to be usable for subsequent reference, it shall be deemed to have satisfied the requirement of law which provides that information or any other matter shall be in writing or in the type-written form. S 5 states that if any information or any other matter is required by law to be authenticated by affixing the signature, then such requirement shall be deemed to have been satisfied if such information or matter is authenticated by means of digital signature affixed in the prescribed manner. S 13 provides that save what is other- wise agreed between the originator and addressee, dispatch of an electronic record occurs when it enters a computer resource outside the control of the originator. Again S 81 provides that the IT Act, 2000 shall have effect not withstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in any other law for the time being in force.
Corporates are approaching their members to permit them to send annual reports and other documents required to be sent to them through email. Communication sent to the e-mail addresses is considered adequate communication as per S 53 of the Companies Act, 1956 read with the circulars of MCA. The practice of receiving communication in electronic mode by the members in the above manner is yet to gain ground. By adoption of the practice of serving documents by corporates in electronic mode not only saves time and money but also ensures ready compliance and protects environment by going paperless and above all add speed to the system. Though the mode of service through electronic mode is being accepted by a small number of members but the step initiated to popularize electronic mode of service of documents will surely gain ground in the long run.
Management of forests date back to the Upanishad and Vedas. Nature was revered and treated as God. With the increase in the pace of civilization new order stepped in. Forests came to be replaced by concrete buildings. Initially the world rejoiced the new order but soon realization crept in. The world came to realize the adverse impact of concrete jungles. Climate change emerged as a new problem area for all. With the change in climate and other usual cycles of nature man felt the need to bring back the effects of nature. Its conservation became a sine qua non. Hence laws on water, air , forests and animals have passed by countries to ensure their protection.
EXAMPLES OF INTERNATIONAL ACTION INITIATED
Latin American countries are actively involved in nature and environment protection activities . In the continent there is the practice of Payment for Eco-System ( PES). In Mexico, part revenue collected from eco-tourism in the Maya forests goes back to the community for keeping the forests intact. In Costa Rica, the community living on the low lands pay those living in the highlands for the conserving that nature systems practices followed in the highlands include carbon sequestration water- quality, bio- diversity and soil conservation. Something that has ecological value attached to it is earmarked to earn high market value. This is a step forward towards monetizing ecological capital.
USA adopted the policy of, `Wetland Banking .‘ As per the policy every wetland lost due to infrastructure activity is compensated by the same size or greater size of the area lost. Different variables like bio-diversity lost, land productivity and edaphic conditions are considered in the policy. The policy is In line with CAMPA protocol or compensatory afforestation done to restore the number of tree cover lost due to any infrastructural activity.
A dedicated government policy and its strict implementation will go a long way in securing a better plane for conservation of nature and environment for future generations world- wide. It cannot remain any individual country’s responsibility to be concerned for the protection of nature and environment. It is the concern of each person to protect nature and environment. The day each person becomes conscious of his responsibility towards nature and environment, the world will be saved. For spreading consciousness among the people, observance of the World Nature Conservation Day on 28th July and World Environmental Day on 5th June each year is considered essential. Nature and environment need to be protected.
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